New Tech Baccs for ''forgotten 50 per cent''
02 October 2012
The "forgotten 50 per cent of young people who don't go to university" will be supported by major reforms in education and apprenticeships, the Labour leader Ed Miliband is to announce at his party's conference in Manchester. Central in these reforms would be a brand new Technical Baccalaureate (Tech Bacc).
Miliband says that some 14-year-olds can see a clear path on to A-levels and university but others don't know whether the qualifications they are studying for will help them get started in a career or even what sort of job it would be.
If it wins the next general election, Labour will reform secondary education to:
• Offer a clear vocational route to a gold standard qualification at 18 via Tech Baccs
• Insist that all young people study English and maths to 18 as a strict condition for the award of Tech Baccs
• Transform business engagement in schools, involving them in the design of vocational qualifications while ensuring anyone studying for a Tech Bacc successfully complete a programme of work experience
• Enable young people to go into apprenticeships when they leave education at 18 with "Tech Baccs".
Miliband is rejecting the old ideas that government has all the answers to creating jobs and says his new plans would put businesses in the driving seat. Businesses would have control over government funding of £1bn to spend on apprenticeships as well as more say in setting the standards for qualifications.
The Labour leader will say: "At my school there were kids who were good at exams and went on to university. For whom the world would open up, like it did for me. But there were others, who had different talents and abilities, but to whom school didn't offer very much. It was true 25 years ago, and it is even more true today.
"For too long Labour has been focused mainly on getting young people into university – and that matters. But it's time now to focus on those who don't go to university. The young people who are too often the forgotten 50 per cent. We cannot succeed if we can have an education system which only works for half the country."
He will add: "In the 21st century everyone should be doing some form of education up to 18, not 16. That gives us the chance and the obligation to develop a new system from 14 to 18, in particular, for vocational qualifications. I want a curriculum that is rigorous and relevant with English and maths up to 18, not 16, culminating in a new technical baccalaureate at 18 based on gold standard qualifications.
"I want ours to be a country where kids aspire not just to go to Oxford and Cambridge but to excellent technical colleges and elite vocational institutions. We need to do what we haven't done in decades: build a culture in our country where vocational qualifications are not seen as second class certificates but for what they can be – a real route on and up to quality apprenticeships and jobs."
Miliband is to continue: "We need central government to step up and take on many more apprentices. And under a Labour government all big firms that want government contracts will offer apprenticeships. Because with these firms, we're not just buying goods and services, we're rebuilding Britain together. And we need a new deal with British business too. As you have long asked for: you get control of the money for training. As you have long requested, you set the standards. Sector by sector, we're going to give business the power and responsibility to make sure the training happens.
"There is a choice of two futures for education. The Tory plan for an education system designed for a narrower and narrower elite. Or our plan."